Garry Leach RIP

GL VCs Lest We Forget
Another amazing artist gone, RIP Garry Leach, loved his VCs artwork in 2000AD as well as his Zirk and Miracleman for Warrior, hugely underrated and a lovely guy the couple of times our paths crossed.

GL vcGL Mortis GL VCs 1

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Howard The Duck graffiti originals

02 Seen Pjay, 1980

Reading some original Howard The Duck comics the other day I came across the original sources for classic NYC graffiti pieces that have been embedded in my brain since seeing the Subway Art / Spraycan Art books back in the 80’s. The Seen / PJay wholecar piece above is probably the first train I ever saw painted as it was part of a magazine review for the book I discovered on holiday in the summer of 1984. This led me to trying to draw my own designs and eventually seek out the book for the bigger picture. I’d never seen lettering like this but was immediately drawn to it and wanted to know more, from then on I wrote graffiti for the rest of the 80s, only stopping when I moved to London in 1990.

The duck on the right seems to be taken from the panel below on the left from issue 2 of the original 1977 run of Howard The Duck, later adapted with added cigar for the top left corner on certain covers. The hat is missing on the train version, possibly due to space, it’s not an exact copy but this is the nearest image I can find and you try painting something 8 ft high in the dark whilst hanging off a train in the freezing cold and getting it spot on. Seen was a master of characters, using many Marvel, DC, Disney and underground comic creations like Cheech Wizard in his pieces.

HTD issue 2

ClassicSeen HowardThe duck on the left of the car is much closer to the original source and obviously comes from the cover of the Marvel Team Up issue of Spiderman and Howard seen below. Seen recently underwent heart surgery and is currently resting until given the all clear to go back to painting, something he seems to do 24/7, regularly selling canvases and prints out in minutes. I very much hope he makes it through and can carry on where he left off, he’s one of the greats and hugely influential, one of the Godfathers of the whole graffiti scene.

LMarvel Team Up 096-00fc

Another classic featuring Howard was by Lee Quinones and covered a whole basketball court in 1980 with the original being swiped from the cover of HTD #20.web-CooperLeeHandballScreen Shot 2022-03-19 at 23.30.20

2021

Sample City cropAfter ending on a bummer in the final hours of 2020 as MF Doom‘s death emerged on social media, we awoke to the news on January 1st of The KLF re-entering the music industry via Spotify and YouTube with remastered material in the form of the first of five compilations. By Jan 6th though any hopes of a better year were dashed, despite the historic swing for the Democrats in the Senate and Congress, with the scenes at Capitol Hill and 1k daily deaths reported in the UK. No surprises on Trump‘s acquittal after the second impeachment hearing in February either.

Surprise of the year was that the UK’s vaccination programme rolled out fast and with few hitches – amazing what can happen when you don’t pump billions into untested private companies and instead let a trusted national institution handle it. I won’t go on, it was pretty much downhill from there and some of those promised KLF albums are still yet to emerge.

Anyway, as is usual on Dec 31st, here are some favourites from the last 12 months in no particular order. There’s been an avalanche of amazing music and art again this year, some coming out of the lockdown months, let’s hope it continues and the virus eases up in 2022. Please check out and support these artists if you like their work, Bandcamp is an excellent way to put a large chunk of money straight in musicians and label’s pockets and buying a print, T-shirt or piece of merch at a gig really helps too. Even a share or piece of positive feedback on someone’s post can give them a boost to know that people are watching or listening out there and they’re not shouting into the void.

LPs 2021

Music:
Concretism – The Concretism Archive Vol.1 LP (CiS Subs Library)
Steve Roach – Tomorrow LP (Behind The Sky)
Snow Palms – Land Waves LP (Village Green)
Jane Weaver – Flock LP (Fire Records)
Stereolab – Switched On vol.4 LP (Warp/Duophonic)
Robert Fripp – Music for Quiet Moments (DGM)
DJ Format – Devil’s Workshop LP
Trevor Jackson – Underdog 1993-1998 radio mix (NTS)
The Hauntologists – Tales From The Scary Magic Field 7″ (Bandcamp)
Various Artists – BLE-EP 12″ (Yellow Machines)
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Butterfly 3000 LP (Flightless)
CAVS – CAVS 12″ (PHC)
Various Artists – Infected Machinery EP 12″ (Downfall Recordings)
The Nevermen – Treat ‘Em Right (Boards of Canada remix) DL (Lex)
Vanishing Twin – Ookii Gekkou LP (Fire Records)
Jay Glass Dubs – Jungle Shuffle 12″ (The Wormhole)
Brian Eno – The Lighthouse (Sonos HD)
Regal Worm – The Hideous Goblink LP (Quatermass)
Ternion Sound – Dovetail (Kursa remix) 12″ (Next Level)

Podcasts 2021

Podcasts:
Chris Atkins – A Bit of a Stretch (Apple podcasts)
The Alexei Sayle Podcast
Martyn Ware – Electronically Yours
Ed Piskor / Jim Rugg – Cartoonist Kayfabe (YouTube)
Stephen Coates – The Bureau of Lost Culture
We Buy Records (Apple podcasts)
Matt Black – Pirate TV (Twitch/FB/YouTube)
The Bunker/Culture Bunker (Acast)
The Adam Buxton Podcast (Acast)

Events 2021

Gigs / Events:
Vanishing Twin – Pensiero Magico live stream Jan 20th
Alice In Wonderland @ The V&A Museum, London
Savage Pencil @ OrbitalSpace, London
Eno @ Paul Stolper Gallery, London
The Light Surgeons ‘Atemporal’ @ Iklectik, London
Funki Porcini @ Common Ground, Coventry
The The’s Comeback Special premier @ Troxy Cinema, London
Jonny Trunk’s Groovy Record Fayre @ Mildmay Club, London
Vanishing Twin @ Kings Place, London
Levitation Festival, @ Flowergate Hall, Whitby
People Like Us – Gone, Gone Beyond @The Pit Theatre, Barbican, London
Pye Corner Audio @ State 51, London
Anicka Yi – Aerobes @ Tate Modern, London

Cover Designs 2021.2

Design / Packaging:
Hattie Cooke – The Sleepers LP (Spun Out of Control) by Eric Adrian Lee
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – live bootlegs series LP (Fuzz Club)
Krashslaughter feat. Phil Most Chill – Rebel Base 7″
Sync 24 – Inside The Microbeat LP (Cultivated Electronics) by Will Barras
Une – Spomenik LP (Spun Out Of Control) by Eric Adrian Lee
Cos – Mix LP (Finders Keepers) by Andy Votel
Castles In Space Subscription Library series LPs (Castles In Space) by Nick Taylor + more
The Third Man Records shop in Soho, London
Pepe Deluxe – The Phantom Cabinet vol.1 LP (Catskills) by Vilunki/James Spectrum
Thundercat – The Golden Age of Apocalypse 10th anniversary edition (Brainfeeder)
The Zen Delay (Ninja Tune / Erica Synths)
Roger Webb – Shadows of Fear 7″ (Trunk) by Julian House
Kingston University Stylophone Orchestra – Stylophonika (Spun Out Of Control) by Eric Adrian Lee
Brian Eno’s turntable

Comics 2021

Books / Magazines / Comics:
Rain Like Hammers – Brandon Graham (Image)
Breaking Open The Head – Daniel Pinchbeck
Bedroom Beats & B-Sides – Laurent Fintoni (Velocity Press)
Decorum – Jonathan Hickman & Mike Huddleston (Image)
Ultramega – James Harren (Skybound/Image)
Anatomie Narrative – Samplerman
The Black Locomotive – Rian Hughes (Picador)
Cruisin’ with the Hound – Spain Rodriguez (Fantagraphics)
Kane & Able – Shaky Kane & Krent Able (Image)
Tales To Enlighten – Matt King & James Edward Clark (Kickstarter)
The Out – Dan Abnett & Mark Harrison (2000AD)
Electronic Sound magazine
99 Balls Pond Road – Julie Drower (Scrudge Books)

Artists 2021
Artists:

Savant
RX Skulls
Pablo Fiasco
Donk
ZombieSqueegee
Karoline Rerrie
.EPOD
FiftySevenDesign
Minty
Stinkfish
Perspicereartist
Tamar Cohen
Hoxxoh
Lovepusher
Artyom Trakhanov
Prentler
Soda
Smitheone
Raymond Lemstra

Film /TV:
Bathtubs Over Broadway (Netflix)
Wandavision (Disney+)
Dead Pixels (Ch 4)
Grayson’s Art Club (Ch 4)
Sisters With Transistors – Lisa Rovener (BFI)
Loki (Disney+)
What We Do In The Shadows Season 3 (BBC2)
Martha: A Picture Story (Projector Films)
Records – Alan Zweig (TVO)
Big Mouth (Adult Swim)
The Book of Boba Fett (Disney+)

Work 2021

Another year over and what have I done?
A second mix of religious rock for Megatrip‘s ‘Tales To Enlighten’ comic kickstarter
Stuck 300 foil covers to 300 LP sleeves for The New Obsolescents album on Castles In Space which ended up selling out in 25 minutes and went for a repress.
Finally finished the design and packaging for The Real Tuesday Weld‘s ‘Blood’ and ‘Tape Dust Memories’ releases, the first in a trilogy as Stephen Coates winds up his recording project.
Released the Celestial Mechanic LP on Utter with music by Saron Hughes and myself and design by Rian Hughes
Appeared on the Big Mouth, We Buy Records, Sleevenote‘s Under The Covers, KTMusic Online and Bureau of Lost Culture podcasts, had guest mixes featured on the Jonny Cuba & Friends and 45 Live shows
Released the Kaleidoscope/Companion reissue 4xLP on Ninja Tune subsidiary Ahead Of Our Time
Designed the Lo Recordings’ 100th edition library album for a limited edition lathe cut LP
Started the Openmindesign Instagram account for current designs and archive ephemera
Continued the DJ Food Mixcloud Select weekly upload series
Saw designs for Steven Rutter, Amon Tobin, Clocolan and Humanoid released on De:tuned, Ninja Tune, FSOL Digital and Castles In Space
Written the forward for a book about light show picture wheels for Four Corners Books
Remixed The The’s ‘Global Eyes’ for The Comeback Special live box set
Designed a Janko Nilovic & Yeti On the Pads 7″ sleeve
Collaborated with Imeus Designs on a second book of Forgotten Graphics Command LP sleeves
Edited hours worth of Pirate TV audio visual broadcasts for Matt Black
Remodelled my Quadraphon turntable for live performance
Oversaw the repressed New Obsolescents LP with screen printed black prism board
Contributed the singles column to MU magazine each issue
Designed a Hey Duggee zoetrope LP for the BBC
Designed a 25th anniversary Stealth T-shirt for 1 of 100
Mixed a preview CD of Touched Music‘s ‘Project OO’‘DJ Food’s Oona Selecta’
Designed a 3rd fold out Xmas card, ‘Solstice Songs for The Real Tuesday Weld
Finished my Cineolascape mix for The The, due for release in 2022

RIP: Phil Spector, Larry King, Ricky Powell, Double K (PUTS), S. Clay Wilson, Chick Corea, Victor G. Ambrus, Frank Thorne, Lou Ottens, Orbital Comics, Malcolm Cecil, Shock G, James Prigoff, Captain Rock, Ken Garland, Eric Carle, Gift of Gab, Peter Zinovieff, Jon Hassell, Peter Rehberg, Chuck Close, Charlie Watts, Lee Scratch Perry, Sir Clive Sinclair, Richard H. Kirk, Alan Hawkshaw, Orbital Comics, Lionel Blair, Andrew Barker, Mick Rock, Alvin Lucier, Robbie Shakespear, Chris Achilleos, Michael Nesmith, Richard Rogers, Desmond Tutu, Janice Long,

New Year’s resolution: Use less black in my work

Looking forward to:
The return of Saga comic
The Soundcarriers‘ new album, ‘Wilds’
King Gizzard remix album
A mixer to complete my Quadraphon set up
Collaborations…
EpoDJFood teaser

Tales To Enlighten – finally here and it’s a monster!

TTE cover My copy of Matt King and James Edward Clark‘s ‘Tales To Enlighten’ arrived from the US this week (for more context see here). I’m lost for words at how good this is, comic of 2021 for me for sure – and yes I am biased, but after the years this has been in production they’ve pulled it off and then some. The story is insane (definitely NSFW), the pin up gallery is huge and the quality off the scale. Matt King may be more familiar to Solid Steel fans as King Megatrip who made several guest mixes for the show and was one of the biggest and earliest collectors of tapes from it.

TTE pin up1TTE inside cover TTE pin up2 TTE pin up3 TTE pin up4 TTE prentler TTE shaky

The attention to detail with fake ads, in-jokes and other myth-enhancing material is spot on and the print quality, superb. This is a huge book, 300+ pages and I look forward to diving right in after reading an early PDF copy last year. It has the spirit of underground comix but with the next few decades of comics knowledge thrown in and some serious art chops. I’m also thrilled to have a couple of spots in the book including a genuine endorsement on the back cover (unbeknownst to me, cribbed from an email to Matt after I’d seen the PDF).

TTE back quote TTE mixes
The mixtape cover of religious music to help the Kickstarter along (they didn’t need it, it got funded in six hours!) is also featured in the back. I’ve uploaded the mix to my Mixcloud so it’s easier to find.

TTE mixtapesI’m so pleased for the whole crew after hearing about it for literally years and being teased to the point where I was going, ‘just put the damn thing out!’. There’s a volume 2 in the works too…

TTE thanks 2TTE thanks

East Village Other covers pt.2 – Underground Comix edition

p15932coll8_56807_full More pages from the Wisconsin Historical Society G.I. Press Collection of The East Village Other papers I came across, all scanned in high res, (much higher than here). As the 60s heading to a close The Other started featuring a selection of the underground cartoonists of the day, namely Robert Crumb, Vaughn Bodé, Susan Morris, Spain Rodriguez, Kim Dietch and Charles Francis Winans. As well as striking covers, several artists did comic strip ads for Douglas Records and a lot of this art – save for some of the Crumb works – I’ve never seen reprinted elsewhere before.

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Del Close documentary

There’s a documentary about Del Close coming this month to Apple TV, which combines comedy and comics and looks fantastic. Diggers will know Close’s name from the John Brent & Del Close classic ‘How To Speak Hip’ (sampled by me and plenty of others) as well as ‘The Do-It-Yourself Psychoanalyst’s Kit’ (plundered for a whole album by Prince Paul). Close was, by all accounts, an unhinged madman/genius who hung out with The Merry Pranksters in the 60s and taught all the future comedy greats in the 70’s and 80’s. There’s not been much written about him aside from a couple of biographies and he’s probably best known for his involvement in Saturday Night Live. Check the trailer and hunt down those records and copies of the Wasteland comics.

Delclose poster

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Loki title graphics and design

Marvel‘s new TV series, Loki, started this week on Disney+ and the title animation and design is fantastic, playing on ever-changing fonts, presumably to highlight the different facets and sides to the main character’s personality. Marvel have had some superior title work going on with both Wandavision and Falcon & The Winter Soldier recently, the former having individual, time-specific intro themes created for each episode. With Loki, this has stepped up a gear.

*slight spoiler alert!!* In the debut episode that appears to be a set up for a time travel chase caper where Loki may be both the good and bad guy, most of the ‘action’ is spent inside the TVA, a processing centre / court for those who disrupt The Sacred Timeline. The whole design of the Time Variance Authority has shades of Terry Gilliam‘s ‘Brazil’, with retro-modern tech, yellow tungsten lighting and 50’s styled public info posters adorning the walls.

TVA room TVA room 3 TVA room2TVA lift TVA console TVA console 2
TVA poster 1TVA poster 3+4TVA Miss Minutes

One of the highlights is a short animation, voiced by TVA mascot Miss Minutes, explaining what the agency does – for the audience’s benefit as much as Loki’s. It’s beautifully realised in what starts out as an 80’s Ulysses 31 homage before slipping into a 50s style similar to Charley Harper or some of the Halas and Batchelor cartoons like ‘Automania 2000’.

TVA film1 TVA film2 TVA film3 TVA film4 TVA film5 TVA film6 TVA film7 TVA film8
The TVA identity is nearer a 60’s/70’s airline / IBM look with employees wearing enamel badges, belt buckles and uniforms bearing the insignia as well as using headed notepaper and retro tech. Just like the work they do, design timelines seem to converge from different eras at the Authority.

TVA badge TVA scanner
But the icing on the cake is the end credits, beautiful short focus close ups of many of the production details yet with contemporary typography details that you’ll miss if you blink. Everything is saturated but sepia-tinged for that nicotine-stained, low lighting look. Forgive me such a graphic-heavy post but this is all so tastefully done, so many great details like the clock with multiple hands.

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Unofficial Zap comics

ZAP 0 UK issue
Above is an extremely rare UK version of Zap Comics no.0 that is currently on sale on eBay – there’s virtually no info on this anywhere on the web but there it is. There’s a version of Zap no.1 from the UK but this edition of #0 never comes up. Look at the 2/6 price too, that dates it, below is a retooled top half of an inside page that fits with the country of origin better than the original featured below. Below that is the original, full colour cover on all the American printings.

Zap 0 Brit inside
Zap 0 US ed Zap 0

Below is another bootleg, no publisher, possibly a German 2nd edition but of which issue I’ve no idea and no other info on this one. These versions may be a result of an agreement with publishers back in the 60s and 70s whereby all comic material printed by the underground press was allowed to be reprinted in different countries or states.
UPDATE: Here’s one with a colour cover too, same country of origin.
Knockabout ComicsTony Bennett talks a bit about this in the recent podcast I took part in, The Bureau of Lost Culture, where we talk about his adventures in alternative culture publishing from the 70s onwards.

Zap Ed.2

Zap 1 German colour cover

UPDATE: – this one doesn’t actually exist but I couldn’t resist adding it – by Marcatti (Brazil)

Zappa comix
And here’s Jim Rugg‘s variant cover for Ed Piskor‘s Red Room #5 Red Room Jim Rugg variant

The Bureau of Lost Culture: The Comix Underground with Tony Bennett

1835756-knockabout_4
I had the absolute pleasure to spend an afternoon recently at Soho Radio with Stephen Coates and special guest Tony Bennett, the founder of Knockabout Comics  – underground and alternative publisher since 1975. We chat to Tony about his history in the counter culture, publishing some of the greats of the genre from Robert Crumb, Gilbert Shelton, Alan Moore, Hunt Emerson and more including his run-ins with the law, customs officers and trials for obscenity.

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It’s hard to think of another publisher who has done more in the underground comics medium in the UK and Tony was a delight to chat to. He bought along a whole pile of books for Stephen and I including a copy of his very first self-published and very hard to find comic, Trip Strip from the early 70s. Pictured above are just a handful of the comics Knockabout have printed and distributed over the years – for more check their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/knockaboutcomics/

Trip Strip

Songs To Enlighten mix for the Tales To Enlighten Kickstarter

TTE cover 4
Earlier this year I put together this mix for Megatrip as a sweetener to accompany the ‘Tales To Enlighten’ Kickstarter that began on April 1st. It’s the second of three sets made to add some more online content to push the fundraiser along during the month. We didn’t need it as the book was funded in 6 hours and continues to gain ground, currently at four times its target! Regardless, not wanting to let a good mix go to waste Matt is pushing ahead with them anyway with Bobby Corridor’s Trip Hop Faster mix debuting last week and mine this.

TTE SYNOPSIS SQUARE
Given the heavy religious content of the book I decided to do a second mix of religious rock and spiritual spoken word. Following on from the first one, Songs Of Praise – which featured on Shane Quentin‘s Garden of Earthly Delights radio show last year – here’s Songs To Enlighten, more of the same with spoken sample contributions from Megatrip’s Soundbank library. It’s an hour long romp through rock operas and church run label releases by obscure bands spreading the good word and has been a joy to put together. Go here for the full lowdown including a download of the mix.

TTE DIE SATAN
If you’re not familiar with the Kickstarter and enjoy blasphemous anarchy, psychedelic mayhem and a load of great art then take a look as there’s still two weeks left to go even though the project is funded. This won’t be sold in book shops, it’s ready to print and a second volume is also at an advanced stage.

COUNTDOWN 001 youGet-v2

Tales To Enlighten Kickstarter

TTE cover Fans of the Solid Steel radio show will know the name Megatrip – aka Matt King, long term fan and collector of the show from the early internet days and contributor of several mixes as well as the 200+ volume Soundbank that he used to send us in the 00’s. Each Soundbank CD was a disc filled with spoken word snippets he’d recorded off of countless TV, film and radio shows over the years, each one numbered and indexed into a searchable spoken word treasure trove. Got a show with a love theme? Just type in an associated word into the search bar, select the Soundbank archive and loads of spoken word clips featuring the word would come up. I once played an Australian big band cover version of the Rockford Files theme and overlaid bit of the show from Megatrip’s CDs onto it and he emailed me as soon as it aired as he’d spotted the connection immediately.

TTE robot

Matt is also, like myself, a big comic collector and would pick up stuff cheap for me at shops and fairs in the US and mail big boxes to the UK, covered in old pages ripped from anything he could find. He has a taste for the bizarre and leftfield and has, for the last few years, been beavering away writing his own comic with artist James Edward Clark which has taken on a life of its own and mutated into a huge volume of stories, pin-ups, fake ads and more. Based on the adventures of Satan’s grandson and a killer robot murdering their way across the multiverse in search of enlightenment, it’s a full colour romp through so many kinds of wrong I really don’t know how they’re going to get away with it. I’ve read a PDF version and it’s full of in-jokes, pop culture references, cameos and laugh out loud un-PC-ness, it’s guaranteed to offend and delight in equal measure.

2c - SYNOPSIS SQUARE

TTE croc

Actually, the whole project has now amassed so much material that there will be the original story, five character shorts and a huge pin-up gallery from a whole range of guest artists. To get this monster tome published Matt’s set up a Kickstarter which launches today – the book is done, it just needs funding.  Go here to see what it’s all about.  You can also follow them on Instagram  UPDATE: Funded in 6 hours!!!

COUNTDOWN 001 youGet-v2

The 90s comics bubble bursts

Speakeasy cover

I recently ran across this issue of Speakeasy from 1991 – a once monthly UK publication, part-comics news and interviews, part-comic shorts – and wondered if this was the peak of the late 80s / early 90s independent comic boom? Looking at the people featured in that issue alone it’s an embarrassment of riches: Grant Morrison, Dave McKean, Brian Bolland, Daniel Clowes and Simon Bisley just on the cover alone. Any two or three of those would have seen me picking up the issue and the Bisley cover has him at the height of his painterly powers.

Speakeasy Biz

Bisley had done Slaine: The Horned God and was in the middle of the Batman/Judge Dredd crossover Judgement on Gotham and Morrison had just finished Doom Patrol and was handing over his Drivel column to Warren Ellis. Clowes was some issues into his Eightball run and McKean was doing Sandman covers and publishing Cages, his 12 issue square format reimagining of what comics could be. Bolland had long gone over to the US to do The Killing Joke and front cover work for numerous lines but that’s not all. Also featured are interviews with Harvey Pekar on his American Splendor collection and words and pictures from Shaky Kane. That’s a pretty great collection of talent.

Speakeasy Bolland

Top news stories are the Infinity Gauntlet saga in the Marvel universe, a Batman vs Predator team up with Dark Horse rolling out the first of their licensed Aliens, Predator and Terminator comics. Kevin Eastman’s recently-founded Tundra is still spilling out titles, early attempts to sell Manga to the West in the shape of Otomo’s Akira are reviewed and Pete Bagge is getting into his stride with Hate. Mike McMahon‘s The Last American was also mentioned and the now-classic America story had run in the Judge Dredd Megazine. So many books and stories that would go on to become classics.

Speakeasy InfinitySpeakeasy Clowes

On the shelves there was much from the Brits to pry the money out of a fanboy’s grubby hand but the ever-present 2000AD was looking a bit outdated in its teenage years and about to slip into a creative quagmire for much of the 90s. In competition there was the aforementioned Judge Dredd Megazine, Deadline in full flow with Tank Girl et al, Crisis was wobbling through some content troubles and Toxic had just been launched in the anarchic spirit of ’77 by some of 2000AD’s originators. Viz was at the height of its popularity, selling over a million copies an issue and anthologies like A1 and the Marvel UK reprint title, Strip were around too. And this is before your forked out for any of the American imports…

Speakeasy Morrison

The first cracks had begun to show with the cancellation of hugely hyped Revolver the previous year after only 7 issues and with the next issue of Speakeasy the magazine was about to evolve into a full comic of its own under the name of Blast! As great as this was it would also only last 7 issues (with Speakeasy as an insert for just 5) before being cancelled and, as with Revolver the year before, it seemed that this was the last big attempt to launch a new title into an already oversaturated marketplace. One high profile failure was bad but two in the space of a year seemed to ring the alarm bells that maybe buyers couldn’t sustain this much content. Incidentally, 2000AD would also try to launch another comic (twice) in 1992 – Earthside 8 which had then morphed into Alternity – neither of which made it past the mock up stage to the shop shelves.

Speakeasy Pekar

By the end of the year both Toxic and Crisis had also folded with Deadline ending a few years later in 1995 after blazing its way through the comics boom and hitching itself to the Britpop movement, even helping birth a Hollywood film of their lead character, Tank Girl. They had a good run and over in the US things faired a bit better with Dark Horse and Image building into hugely successful publishing houses and DC’s Vertigo imprint starting in 1993 and operating for 27 years. The biggest casualty at the time was probably Kevin Eastman’s Tundra operation, set up as a creator-owned imprint with the profits from his and Peter Laird‘s Ninja Turtles, it closed in 1993, never making a profit and costing Eastman a reputed $14 million.

Speakeasy Shaky

The house of Tharg ultimately survived everyone, 2000AD is into its 44th year, struggled through its adolescence and has been in a second golden age for nearly 20 years now after a threadbare 90s patch. The Megazine mutated through several different formats and weathered their own Hollywood flop in the shape of the Judge Dredd film starring Stallone before finding their feet and are still on top form 30 years later.

Speakeasy Blast

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Four hour Kevin O’Neill 2000AD podcast

One of my absolute favourite British comic artists is Kevin O’Neill, co-creator of characters like Ro-busters, A.B.C Warriors, Nemesis The Warlock, Metalzoic, Marshal Law and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. In this 2 part epic 4.5 hr podcast he tells of his time before, during and after 2000AD in what must be one of his most in depth interviews.

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Psychedelic craze comic crossovers

BunnyI always like seeing the psychedelic style of the late 60s adopted by items outside of the immediate area of music. It’s usually a watered down version but it’s always fun to see how some ‘straighter’ mediums co-opted to style of the day to be hip with the kids. Regular comics especially went through a phase of being ‘groovy’, ‘swinging’ or ‘hip’ and it was big with love and romance titles for girls. Here are some covers I’ve collected on my internet trawls, obviously omitting work from the underground sector whose artists helped build the style in the first place.

Teen -InScooter3503680-mod-love-cover-art-e1439262598915Falling In Love 099-01fc8141f7f7a3d9d51f3341691aa0ab4d--old-comic-books-romance-comicsJust Married
Early Nick Fury covers really went at it for a short period too
Nick Fury
Nick_Fury_005nick-fury-4Jimmy Olsen Groovy

Caza – Kris Kool reprint book pre-order

KK cover

Finally, after years of wanting a copy of Caza‘s psychedelic space book, Kris Kool, Italy’s Passenger Press has reprinted and recoloured it AND translated it into English! The original French language version of this always fetches high prices and this version has been done in association with Caza himself and includes extras as well. For the first 200 copies there’s also a signed print as an incentive too! You can pre-order it here

pagine-KRIS-KOOL-a-confronto-01-ENG-V2 KK inside

Jeffrey Lewis’ Fuff comics

Fuff 7Being a fan and collector of underground comics as well some of the indie stuff out there I was intrigued to find a copy of something called Fuff #7 by Jeffrey Lewis in a charity shop recently. I recognised his name on the cover because a friend had played me his excellent ode to vinyl ‘I caught the disease for LPs’ a while back and my partner has seen him a bunch of times at the Windmill in Brixton over the years. Halfway through the issue he splits the page in half and the story runs to the back page, flips upside down and then runs back into the comic to circle back on itself above the pages preceding it. I like artists who play with the format and the strip deals in time travel with the characters journeying back in time from a future issue with their dialogue reversed into the bargain.

Anyway, I loved it and looked online for more, Jeff has back issues on his website but he’s in the US and the postage on those things to the UK is crazy, but I lucked out as a British seller on eBay was selling issues 1-6 – what are the chances? The tone of the strips is summed up on the cover of issue 7 – ‘Travelogues, Biography, Fiction, Whimsy’ – semi autobiographical in a kind of Robert Crumb / Harvey Pekar American Splendor style, mostly dealing with his tour diaries, tales his dad told him and surreal oddball characters.

Fuff 1-6

So I’m totally loving the first seven issues and I have to get the set because I’m a completist like that and I’m feeling bad about not ordering from Jeff and putting some money in his pocket during this pandemic so I ordered issues 8-12 direct and he sent a little drawing along with them too :). The comics just got better and better, the European tour diary was a great insight to an independent musician on the road, his self-confessional sex therapy sessions with Dr. Afting Table M.D. are a brave move and a tale of his dad’s acid trip in the woods in issue #11 was the best yet. Finally, issue 12 deals in a cosmic tale with God featuring character cameos from previous issues that just upped the ante even further into a mind-blowing critique of today’s all-knowing, opinion-orientated world.

Fuff 8-12

The sad thing about the timing for issue 12 was that Jeff released it at the beginning of the year with a view to selling copies on tour in the Spring. Of course that’s not happening for the foreseeable future so, like most artists, he’s had a major part of his income cut off. What I’m trying to say here is simply check out Jeff’s comics if you can as they’re great if you enjoy that kind of material and he could do with the support. He even does a bundle with the first 11 issues including the harder to find #0 which reprints micro comics he drew as flyers in the 90s. And of course check out his music while you’re there.

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